By: COLIN REESE
The basic truth about the United States Men’s National Team is that Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey are the best players.
If Geoff Cameron is started alongside Michael Bradley as the second defensive midfielder and Benny Feilhaber is started as the central attacking midfielder in between Donovan and Dempsey, then the United States has five midfielders that are all skilled on the ball and that allow the United States to win back possession, pass the ball well, and create scoring chances.
Jozy Altidore has proven that he can score when he is provided with enough service, so starting Altidore as the lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation is the strongest option at this point.
Aron Jóhannsson or Juan Agudelo may prove to be better strikers, but a good starting point is to allow Altidore to play with midfielders that can actually play the passes that he needs to score – and Altidore has earned his starting spot.
When he’s playing his best, Altidore is a two-footed striker whose technical ability has closed the gap with his athleticism and physique, which are both very imposing. Americans often value athleticism over skill on the ball, but Altidore is a technical player who is a fantastic athlete.
Surveying the entire American player pool, a Front Six comprised of Cameron, Bradley, Donovan, Feilhaber, Dempsey, and Altidore is the best American Front Six with all the information that observers have at hand.
Other players may prove to be better than some of those players, but those six players should be the starting point for quickly finding the Best American Front Six before the World Cup.
With the United States Men’s National Team’s friendly against Mexico on the horizon, World Soccer Source looks at a USMNT Best XI for March 2014.
Americans should be proud to have Cameron, Bradley, Donovan, Feilhaber, Dempsey, and Altidore representing the United States, but the Back Four is still a question mark.
Against Mexico, an experimental Back Four is required because Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley as the outside backs at the World Cup won’t cut it, and Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez aren’t proven or fear-inspiring center backs.
The United States doesn’t appear to have a clear Best Back Four, but there are four American defenders who may be upgrades to the current defenders. These upgrades are DeAndre Yedlin, Maurice Edu, Michael Orozco, and Chris Klute or Greg Garza (Klute recently strained his hamstring).
Here is World Soccer Source’s Best USA XI for March 2014 in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
GOALKEEPER: Tim HOWARD (Everton)
RIGHT BACK: DeAndre YEDLIN (Seattle Sounders)
CENTER BACK: Maurice EDU (Philadelphia Union)
CENTER BACK: Michael OROZCO (Puebla)
LEFT BACK: Greg GARZA (Tijuana)/ Chris KLUTE (injured) (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Michael BRADLEY (Toronto FC)
RIGHT MIDFIELDER: Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)
PLAYMAKER: Benny FEILHABER (Sporting Kansas City)
LEFT MIDFIELDER: Clint DEMPSEY (Seattle Sounders)
STRIKER: Jozy ALTIDORE (Sunderland)
FORWARD: Juan AGUDELO (Utrecht)
MIDFIELDER: Joe CORONA (Tijuana)
MIDFIELDER: Benji JOYA (Chicago Fire)
How they line up:
YEDLIN EDU OROZCO KLUTE/GARZA
DONOVAN FEILHABER DEMPSEY